Friday, February 20, 2009

Budgets as Literary Pieces: Creative Imagination in an Accountant's Profession

Kerala Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac invokes Thakazhi's novel, Kayar, in his new budget speech: news

They call it Mararikkulam rope trick...!

I AM not sure how effective are the budgets presented by Dr Thomas Isaac, our present finance minister, in promoting the economy of Kerala. And for that matter, any budget presented by any finance minister. For me, it appears the economy goes on its own way, the people find their own ways to survive, whether there is a budget or not. Frankly, the less meddling from the government, the better for the people and economy.

But in Dr Issac's case, at least he could lay claim to be a very effective literary agent. In his last budget he put his hands on Vaikom Muhammed Basheer's Pathummayude Aadu, to conclude his speech where he said like Pathumma with scarce resources managing her household, it was his duty to provide whatever little he had for all people who clamoured for his attention.

This time, he started his speech with a reference to the novel, Kayar of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, which gives us a wonderful picture of the class divisions emerging in Kuttanadu, and how the place changed over a period of time. Kayar has not only history, but it has an economy too, Dr Isaac discovers this time and he effectively uses the images in the novel to describe a crisis hit economy and society trying to come to grips and asserts the need for search for a new approach to move ahead, to make the difficulties into an opportunity for change.

That was a masterful interpretation of a piece of a literature to describe the present day Kerala society. Now who says the budgets are simply a sheet of accounting and calculations with some receipts and a lot of expenditures? I think we should read the budget speeches for their literary merit, as documents of creative imagination, even if we might not find anything worthwhile in them from an accountant's point of view.

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